"Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. " ~Lindley Karstens

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Garden: Two Years Later

I cannot believe today is already the last day of August!  With the new beginning of a school year, excessive heat, humidity and abundant mosquitos, the time I spent in the garden has been cut to the minimum recently.  Luckily, the frequent rain has been keeping my garden alive, or should I say, converting my garden into a jungle.

I am also very overdue to write my garden anniversary report.  After all, recording garden progress was the main reason that I started this blog from the first place.  By the The end of June, my garden turned to two years old!

Let me give you a tour to my garden.  Don’t worry, that won’t take long since I only have a tiny garden.  If you are interested to see how I started my garden, you can find the beginning here and one year report here.

My garden space basically is limited to the strip around my house.  Let’s start from the front yard.

Front yard was the only space that had established landscape before we moved in. After we added decorative concrete border to the flower beds and side yard, we did a front garden make over.  You can find the detail of this makeover here.

This is how it looked when it was just finished in March.


Since then, I have been adding more plants, such as bromeliads, society garlics, and some of original plants had to be moved since the Sun changed the direction in the summer, and those plants were being scorched.  Here is how it looks now.


Now move to the right (west) side of the house.  Looking toward the back yard from the front… The caladiums have started fading away.  (Note to myself:  Need to move the caladiums to a more shaded area.)


The same bed looking toward the front of the house.  From this picture, you also can see the small flowerbed in the front that circles an oak tree.  Four of my Vanda orchids are hanging on this tree.


Continue walking inside the fence of this side yard toward the back yard…

I opened this side flower bed last year.  Wow, how everything has been out growing!  I already did lots of trimming, but it still looks like a jungle.


Ground orchids are almost hidden under the Angel's Trumpet tree.


Angel’s Trumpet has been blooming on and off for the whole year.  I am not very satisfied with its shape though.  Maybe I can start another one since striking a cutting of it is super easy, and they really grow VERY FAST!  At least in my climate.


Now we are almost in the back yard.  From here, you can see how the side yard and the back yard are connected.  The path is a paved gravel path with step stones.  I still need to put more big stones on the path to level the step stones, a project that has been postponed for almost one year. 

The following are the sections of the west flowerbed of the backyard, also my biggest flowerbed.  I will show you the broad view of this flower bed later.


White Angel's trumpet is also flowering...


Can you tell why I said the weather has been turning my garden into a jungle?  Zinnias have been growing to almost 5 feet tall, blocking the flowers in the back of the bed.  I think they almost passed their peak time, and I need to remove them soon.

Here is the broad view of this flower bed.   If you compare it to the one year report post, you can find out that I have widened this flower bed to remove the remaining grass strip.


The other flower bed in the above picture that is perpendicular to the west bed has also been widened since last year.  This flower bed is parallel to the “lake” of my back yard.  The papaya trees outside of the fence were planted one and half years ago starting from little seedlings given by my friend.  Now all trees are bearing the fruits.


Different sections of this flower bed…


The bromeliads around the Christmas palm tree have been setting the pups.  I want them eventually climbing up the tree.


Again, the zinnias are too tall to fall over the flower bed.


Now here is the east (left) side of my backyard.  Still looking at the “lake”…


I already opened one corner of this side in the first year.  This is close-up view of the corner:


Then I started to remove the rest of the strip of this side in April.  The idea was using this bed partially as the vegetable garden.  My frequent readers might remember I did mention that I had a Veggie garden project in progress.  You might have been wondering why I never gave any update about that project.  Well, that was because the plan of having a partial vegetable garden failed miserably.  The Chinese Yard long beans I planted were attacked by the aphids, and died before they could produce the beans.  The string-less beans I started from seeds were also developed some decease that made the leaves looking rusty.  The eggplants seedlings could not grow bigger at all for some reason.  The only things I had some sort of harvest were tomatoes (already removed, you can see the cages in the pictures), hyacinth beans, herbs and some Chinese leave veggies. 


I think the wet and hot weather might be the one to blame, and even I already amended the soil with compost and horse manure, I think the soil might still not be ideal for the vegetables. Of course, the major reason of my failure will be the lack of experience of this gardener.   Now I even don’t know if I have the courage to try again.  Maybe fall is the good season to try?  At least I know I can always use it as the regular flower bed.

The other end of this flower bed close to the back yard has already been used to grow flowers: Gardenias, Jasmines, Rain lilies, wishbones….


Now we have finished touring the backyard.  Let's walk back to the front yard via the east (left) side of the house. 

The east side only had the bushes that builder put there.  Here is a picture of it right after the concrete border was installed in March.


Since then I have been removing the bushes one by one to open it as a new flower bed.  Here is a sneak preview of the unfinished bed:


Now I don’t know how I removed all those bushes in this hot summer.  Not counting the sweat and the mosquito bites!   I just know I am determined to remove two or three at a time before the garbage collecting days, so that the bushes could be disposed.  There still are the last five bushes to be removed at the far end, and the plants are not matured yet.  Will give another update about this bed after I finish it.

Okay, now we have come back to the front garden to conclude my garden tour.  Did I tell you that it won’t take long?  You can see I have almost opened all space I can find for my garden.  Wonder what I can show you in next year’s anniversary report…Things will be changed for sure.  That is part of the gardening fun after all!!!

I am looking forward to the cool season...  and wish I can have more time for my garden.

Happy Gardening, friends!

Monday, August 8, 2011


I love butterflies, and grow quite some plants that butterflies love.  But for some reason, up to recent months, I hardly saw butterflies visiting my garden.  The most popular one I saw was white peacock butterfly.  Even when I occasionally spotted some butterflies visiting my garden, I either did not have camera in the hand, or just not fast enough to got some good shots of them.

Fortunately, this past weekend, I had luck to see two butterflies in my garden, and out of more than a couple dozen of blurred pictures, I indeed had some worth posting.  Finally!

I started from one milkweed plant over one year ago. It serves as Monarch butterfly’s host plant, and often seen being chewed to the bare sticks.  Now this one plant has so many volunteered seedlings popping up from here and there.  I kept another four in the ground to let them grow since they are in good locations, the rest of them will be pulled out or given away.  I was excited to see monarch caterpillars on them early this year, and even more excited to see the monarch butterflies finally visiting my garden!  (Update:  Floridagirl pointed out that the below two images  are indeed Queen Butterfly, not Monarch butterfly.  Thanks, Floridagirl!)


This gulf fritillary butterfly actually landed on lots of my giant Zinnia flowers, but none of those pictures were coming out clear!  I ended only have this one on the hibiscus leaves.  Yes, I am asking too much, not only a butterfly, but also on a beautiful flower with a perfect steady pose for me??  I should not be too greedy!


Some other things going on in my garden. 

This desert rose (Adenium obesum) is always one of my favorites that requires little attention from me.  I often wonder why I don’t see many Florida bloggers post this plant since for me it is such a easy and beautiful plant, blooming almost year around, with Spring being its peak time.  I only brought them against the house wall in those below 40 days in the past winters, otherwise they are in the full sun all year long.  They really did very well in the past two winters even they are considered tropical plant.
The other day, I spotted two long bean-like things growing from the branch.  Those are actually its seed pods!  I actually already started some from seeds my friend gave me, and wonder how long it will take for them to bloom from seedlings. I will try to collect these seeds by wrapping a plastic bag around it, so that the seeds will not fly away in the wind when the pod pops open.

First Canna lily flower.  It is late this year, maybe I need give them a little more sun.


Several Dendrobium orchids are blooming again in my garden.  I often think I should have fertilized my orchids more often, but they still surprise me with flowers from time to time.  Maybe they will reward me more flowers if I feed them a little bit more?

I hang this one on the tree in the front yard, and now I can see four flower scrapes from far away every day I come home.


The following one was started from a cutting two years ago, and this is first time it blooms.  The original color is light purple, and I surprised to see now the flowers are in white with some purple in the center.


The one is called “Blue Fox Tail”, in my favorite blue/purple color!


Don’t you think these purple/blue colors are so soothing cool to the eyes in this hot hot summer days?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

July Garden

With a two-week vacation, and very hot humid weather we have been experiencing in South Florida, my gardening time has been cut to the minimum in July. 

Fortunately, there are lots of plants in my garden love this weather much better than the gardener.

This south east garden corner of my backyard is in a full sun area.  Various agaves, bulbine plants, yellow allamanda, black and blue salvia, red ornamantal pineapple thrive by their own without much help from me.


This narrow stripe of flower bed is located at the south side of the backyard, and also in the full sun.  Three rose bushes were situated in this bed, including ‘Belinda’s Dream’ and other two hybrid tea roses.  Other plants include zinnias, pentas, bulbine plants, bromeliads around the Christmas palm tree base, purple fountain grass, flax lilies, marigolds, dusty miller, mealy cup sage and Artillery Fern.


Remember my post “Singing The Zinnia Song” ?   They are now growing everywhere in my full sun flowerbeds, and they almost reach to four to five feet tall!  Look at all these colorful big flowers! I almost think they look like roses in distant, only without the fragrance.


All my three ‘Orange Marmalade Crossandras’ are now blooming, and pups are growing from their bases too. 


More American Elegans Zinnias are growing in this west side flowerbed.


‘Miss Muffet’ caladiums and bromeliads in a shady corner of this same flower bed.



Ground orchids this year are a little late than last year.  Although the leaves are growing healthy and full, but the flowers are not as prolific as last year.   Hopefully I can see their outstanding performance in the next a couple of months.

I have three different colors of Siam Tulips, white, light pink and deep pink.  This is the second year I have them in my garden.  One of the clumps might not be in its optimum location.  I need to relocate it to a shady area after they finish blooming.


I was very surprised to find out several of my roses were actually doing great, and even blooming when I came back from the vacation in the middle of July.

Below is ‘Josephine Land’ which was brought home unplanned.  I went to that nursery to expect they had “Belinda’s Dream” for sale early this year, only found out it was sold out.  The owner then recommended me ‘Josephine Land’ for its fragrance.  It does have nice fragrance, but very light.  However, look at her, blooming in the middle of Florida Summer, no black spots to spray, I think this one might have longer life in my garden compared to other roses I had.


For some reason, I have not had much good luck to grow Agapathus (African Lily) in my garden.  Believe it or not, this is the only flower scrape I got out of six Agapathus I have, and it did not bloom until July.   They seem to be such easy plants for all other Florida gardeners.    hmmm…. 


This plumbago started taking off this summer since I bought it in one gallon size last year.  Love love to look at its sky-blue color, soothing in this hot summer.

August is expected to be another hot month for us Florida Gardeners.  I will continue spend more time indoor.   I am glad that at least my previous efforts paid off, so that now I can enjoy my garden from my air-conditioned house . 

Stay cool, my friends!
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